For this final assignment of the People and Place course I am to look at the important distinction between professional and amateur photography. The main difference being the professional photographer producing a body of work to a clients brief or specifications. This difference in approach and final requirements seriously alters the photographers mindset when planning and producing the final images. The ability to consistently see the photography and potential ideas through the eyes of the client and within the brief is that can really set the professional photographers apart from the amateurs.
In this final assignment I am to create a fictional client that requires a set of images to advertise and show the workshop at Haywards Guitars in Winchester. The client itself is the owner of the store and workshop, Brian Hayward. The images are to depict his workshop, an element of the business he feels that is slightly under noticed in comparison to the store.
The brief I set out for myself was as followed;
- To produce 20 photographs fit for publication both technically and aesthetically. This meaning they are fit for purpose for use on a website and for small to medium print publications.
- Purvey a sense of attention to detail and craftsmanship in the images that show the potential customers Brian’s professionalism.
- Show the workshop in an attractive as possible manner, the workshop is naturally cluttered and full of projects and tools, but aim to show an organisation amongst it.
- Create a variety of images to show a wide range of work carried out by Brian in the workshop, from guitars, both acoustic and electric, and ukeleles in states of repair, contraction and finished.
- Maintain a colour tone throughout the images to allow them to flow well together on the website.
The brief sets out an overall tone of the images, the requirements focus me to look at the overall collection of final images. I need to ensure they are all maintained in a similar fashion that ensure the colour tones maintain a presence throughout the assignment while not at the expense of the narrative or composition. The images will need to show different stages of builds and repairs both showing Brian and the workshop, not necessarily in the same images every time. I will aim to capture each element required over a number of days with Brian, looking at the processes and tools used to which provide me with an interesting photograph or important stage in the building. Technically the images will be required mainly for the website while some maybe produced onto leaflets. This will mean that I produce the highest quality of files that allow for reproduction. The lighting in the workshop is notably poor, the use of a fluorescent strip light and two tungsten lamps will cause a problem and may result in a higher ISO. I will endeavour to ensure the noise created from the ISO will not be to detrimental to the final images and that production at no more than A4 size would be achieved to a professional standard.
It is the style of this photography and the compositional elements that I have considered in planning and thoughts that refers me to the work of Richard Billingham, his composition often seems unconsidered or thought out, especially within his series ‘Ray’s A Laugh’ however he maintains the feeling and sense of the image throughout the body of work. It is this achievement of maintaing a balance on composition that both effectively shows both person and place in a natural and insightful way. The connection being that both sets of images are of people in a place they feel most comfortable, be at home for a family or a workshop for a craftsman it is apparent they are both relaxed and comfortable. I feel this is important to show in the images of Brian, they ability to be relaxed and yet obviously professional allows the viewer and potential customer to understand his experience and skill in a visual and subconscious manner by taking the semiotics of an image.
This first image from the twelve final images for the client show Brian within the workshop, showing him in context with the workbenches, tools and the surroundings we get a sense of the subject and the environment he is in. The lighting obviously focused over the benches area give the image an atmospheric appearance that subtly lights the front of the subject and the work top before receding to the edges of the frame, although still giving the view enough detail to what is around the focal point. I like the overall exposure of this image, the light is captured just right to give the balance on atmosphere and detail that continues to draw the viewer into the subject and the many details around him. The central composition similar to that used consistently by David Carol, a New York photographer and director of photography at CBS, throughout his social documentary images. This against the grain composition goes against the rule of thirds ideal that is often one of the first elements of design we learn but in this case the central focal point compliments the entire frame drawing the viewer into the image while also being very apparent and eye catching due to the lighting. I am very happy with the control of noise in this image, it is something I was consistently worries about throughout the images while taking them and is something I’m sure to be referring to as I look at each image. Finally I am very pleased to be able to capture the expression on Brian’s face, his controlled gaze over his work shows equally the care and professionalism he works too every day.
This second, closer view from a similar position to the previous captures a more intricate and focused subject. The composition and positioning of the subject suited the landscape orientation rather than the portrait which will be seen later in the ones that didn’t make it section. The lines of the body, especially the arms and hands coming together almost while leaning over with a bowed head give the composition an openness and attentive feel by getting closer to the piece of wood he is working. The positioning and placement of the left hand is a great focal point that compliments the other more closed fist around the shaving tool, the opposites here give an interesting insight into the dexterity of a master craftsman. I again like the lighting go this image, the light is subtle enough to maintain a good exposure while also pulling the viewer to the guitar face and activity on the work top. To compliment the lighting the expression of focus and attention is effectively portrayed in this image, the darker area of shadow around the eyes adds I believe to the feeling of concentration that further compliments the positioning of the hands and evidence of action with wood shavings around the focal point.
This first image showing an element of just the workshop is an interesting example of the use of depth of field and colour to balance the photograph. I feel the image would not be as successful overall without the elements of colour. The depth of field effectively draws the viewer onto the area obviously being worked by Brian as we can see the pen marks as a guide. The bright contrasting blue and yellow further add not only context and added elements into the image but also balance the area in focus with the rest of the photograph. Further to the photographical elements to this image the overall brief for the images states to ‘show the professionalism’ I took that as to be not only in Brian and his attention to detail and skill but also to the materials used and I feel these image shows this using a variety of scale.
In this next image I have aimed to further show the subject of Brian further within the workshop. The composition shows an interesting use of depth by placing the work bench divider in the foreground to the right. This I feel gives the image a dynamic appearance that sets Brian within the frame. It draws the viewers eye across the frame from right the left as we look into the image until we look settle on the surform and placements of both hands and bowed head over the focal point. I think this pose and positioning of the tool and the hands give a strong feel to the image, the work that goes into it, not only precisely but in some case with a bit of strength and effort. I feel the stance taken here by Brian and the placement of both hands on the tool give this impression that shows the subject working hard within the context of the workshop. I also like how the light comes in from behind the workspace divider, this gives the background a more obvious focus and lights the subject well both on the torso but also the hands and neck of the ukelele he is working.
I feel this is the strongest and most atmospheric of images within the assignment. The tight composition really focuses the viewer on the subject of Brian and the ukelele body he is working. The light is effectively soft and really adds to the texture of both the surrounding, the ukelele and Brian. The light to the right of the frame shows the form of how Brian is sat and follows the arms as they work together with a scraper tool on the side of the uke, the light really sets the subject out from the rest of the image and effectively gives it form and shape that suits both the image and the composition. I really like the warm lighting here, as within the other images it effectively shows the workshop as I saw it while also giving an interesting light to work with. The positioning of Brian sets him out well while being complimented by the lighting, however I feel it is his expression and obvious line of sight with the work he is carrying out that further shows, as is the brief, is skill and professionalism when working with the instruments. I feel the detail maintained in this image is very good compared to the potential of noise as in other photographs, I feel especially around the ukelele and the hands draw the viewer in while the overall composition just shows the complete attention to detail and skill of Brian.
This sixth image of the assignment further shows in an alternate composition and angle the process and continuous measuring and adjusting that goes into making a single instrument. Although lacking the portrait of Brian we are more than aware it is him in the frame and the angle gives the image a better angle that creates a triangle within the frame, drawing the viewer around the image from profile, to hand and ruler and hand and back again the viewers moves throughout the frame. I also feel the small added detail in the foreground of the guitar tattoo is an added element only noticed when looking deeper into the photograph, similar to the painting ‘Winter Budapest’ by Jeff Stultienes of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters where a black bird is nestled within the mid ground of the image and is an interesting element not initially noticed when looking at the painting. Once again the light to the right of the frame is an interesting element that effectively gives the right hand a edge light is supported with two further spotlights either side, this however doesn’t help with the noise element of this photograph that is noticeable when zooming in to 100%.
This still life style photograph showing a half put together ukelele surrounded by tools on the work bench is an interesting image that I feel gives further insight into the workshop, its character and suitability to instrument making. The time spent here perfecting his surroundings is noticeable in this image, Brian has continuously developed and adjusted to ensure his surrounding are suited to his style of work. The apparent lines within this image all draw the viewer to the focal point of the ukelele body, the tools on the work top coupled with the ruler guiding the eye along with the chisels on the wall lining up towards the uke, this is further enforced when looking above it and the larger chisels pointing down towards it all create a powerful and compelling composition that ensures the viewer continues to be pulled to the subject. An added element that I really like about this image is the lighting, I feel it really gives the focus point of the uke body form and shape that by the tones really sets it our from the tools and work bench giving it three dimensional qualities.
I really like this next image, the coming together of two elements of the ukelele is coupled perfectly by the concerned and watchful eye of Brian as he fits the neck onto the body. Similarly to the previous image the lighting along the side of the uke creates a very three dimensional quality to really makes it stand out against the rest of the frame and the light that falls on Brian ensures he is not lost in the frame. Once again the line of sight plays a big part in the emotive connection in this image, we can see he is looking down at the join with his hand covering and helping fit the two together. This I feel gives it a strong connection to the viewer who will again see the care and attention Brian continues to put in when working on any instrument. Due to the placement of the light, especially in this image and thanks to the distance from the fluorescent light I think the texture picked up is an interesting addition both on the body and side of the ukelele but also Brian’s forearm.
This ninth image of the assignment is a further look at the workspace and environment. Potentially considered by some to be cluttered and messy it is clear to see when watching Brian work it is what some would call organised chaos, everything he needs is within reach and he knows exactly where it is. I feel I have portrayed this in the image, by centring the ukelele body and including int he foreground the neck within the clamps we can see there is a process happening and that the tools around the subject are used continuously. I like the composition of this image, the inclusion of the space below the workbench gives an element of context and scale further to that of the walls. I like that the inclusion of the fluorescent light grabs the attention but its subdued enough to not overpower the photograph. The downside to this image is the noise that is apparent when zoomed at 100%.
This image is the start to looking at the end of the process as the finished product is produced. This tightly framed composition shows a finished electric guitar with a vibrant sunburst design. I like the colour captured here, it is true to how it looks in the workshop and is effectively vibrant to capture the eye of the viewer. I like the depth created by the angle of view here and the context it gives to the initial surrounding of the guitar on the workbench. The light on the subject is again from the fluorescent light above the workbenches, the light is reflected on the guitar which although large in size is not too distracting within the photograph. It does however give a nice shadow both along the neck and the body of the guitar, this gives the electric guitar an interesting form that sets it above the work table and immediately grabs the attention of the viewer.
This penultimate photograph captures Brian giving the body of the ukelele a final inspection after completing the adjustments. The composition of the frame suits the positioning and pose well, the image is balanced by the focused concentration of his expression and the line of sight leading the viewer to the ukelele being inspected. The placement against the edge of the workspace gives the shape and form of the uke a more captivating element throughout the the body. has it contrasts well with the darker underside of the work bench. From a client brief point of view the image shows a continued concern into the quality control side of things that effectively shows Brian’s continued attention to detail and perfectionism. The image effectively brings together both photographic elements of the assignment and the parameters of the brief, It effectively shows the connection between Brian and his workshop while focusing on his attention to detail and high professionalism that best shows of the workshop side of his business. Technically I like the lines in this image, I feel that both arms and the neck of the guitar effectively bring the viewer in from different aspects of the image while the line of sight is again an important element.
This final image of the assignment captures Brian in a comfortable and simple composition. Performing in his store so a customer can hear the tone of the guitar is where I first got the idea for this body of images. His character, personality, and suitability for what he does is encapsulated in this image. He is a musician and we see that here, but he is someone who is immersed in the music, from creating the songs to the instruments they are played on is what this selection of images shows us. I feel this image is a very good choice to finish the narrative on, we have seen not only the workshop in a manner fitting to the brief but also the development areas of building an instrument and here we see Brian within his store showing off his wares for a customer. I like the composition to this image, showing both the till area of the store but also the doorway between both areas brings the environment together giving it a connection.
Overall I feel very happy with the images I have produced for the final 12 in the assignment, I think there is a very good variety both in subject, scale and composition in a space and lighting conditions that didn’t allow for much room or variation. Each image is intended to show a different stage throughout the development while also including a selection of still life images showing further context onto the subject of the workspace. I think the narrative is strong throughout the assignment to achieve a time sequence that is clear and apparent while still showing a multitude of instruments. The images however could be improved as a whole if the noise wasn’t such a feature on a number of images and at a 100% view within Lightroom. I don’t see how I could have ensured this wasn’t the case given the lighting available to me and the speed of some of the movements within the process of building a guitar or ukelele. Although the noise is apparent at the higher zoom within Lightroom I feel considering the outcome of these images being used on a website and on small leaflets it will not effect the final outcome quality and will be acceptable to the client.
The eight resulting images that I have not included int he final 12 I feel are of equal quality and warrant a position within the assignment, it was very difficult to choose which I included and it was a question of narrative quality and similarity to other images that I chose because of the orientation and balance.
The eight images again vary in subject from Brian at work to still life and again in the store. Each has been weighed against a corresponding image in the final 12 and although I feel are just as technically and aesthetically good they are similar in ways or others are suited better. Firstly image number one shows the workspace as I got there and how it was set up for the day. I liked the initial lighting but felt the image was flat and the subject matter on the workspace didn’t grab me as much as the first image chosen for the final 12 where Brian is shown within context to the workspace. Image number three was an decision made based on the orientation of the subject and the camera, when compared to image 2 of the final 12 we can see the balance of the image is far more natural with the subject fitting perfectly within a landscape frame. Image 4 is consistent with image 4 of the final 12, although in this case I have chosen to include the landscape version and the context and depth given gave a much stronger connection between both people and place than the other, although it is still a good image that is lit nicely and the stance captured is interesting and strong. Image 6 of the 8 was a personal favourite of mine, I felt the shallow depth of field gave the image an interesting appearance that was still obvious to the subject, it led the eye nicely through the frame in a similar fashion to image 7 of the assignment, in which case I chose due to its strength in lines and texture. Both image 7 and 8 showing Brian within his store are characterful and interesting capturing the subject casually in his environment. I chose to include a closer version of 8 as opposed to the others as I felt it was stronger visually due to Brian being more dominant in the frame and there is lots going on in both these images.
Overall I feel I have done well to both produce a significantly interesting selection of images that shows not only my development throughout this course but also with the narrative element, something I found out quickly that could be improved upon. I feel that the images provided although room for improvement both in technical usage of the light to produce less images with noise, although I did the best with what I had and produced images that were suitable for the brief. I think I will continue to understand the low light scenarios and develop further as the course progresses into my second and third years. I am happy with my choice of subject, Brian was hospitable and I look forward to seeing him use the images on his website. The subject gave me an interesting and difficult subject to photograph, something that I felt challenged and had to consider throughout the planning and producing of the images. I have taken a lot from this assignment both technically with low light photography, further insight into depth of field used artistically and also within the narrative of photography, something I have come to understand more and develop within and hopefully continue to do so further throughout the degree program.